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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  June 8, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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>> rose: welcome to theprogram. we begin tonight with the reported hacking of the u.s. government. we're joined by david sanger of the "new york times." >> in this case, it could be criminal groups. it could be groups that the chinese government knows about but doesn't really go try to stop. it could be proxies of some other kind. that's what makes this kind of thing so difficult. >> rose: we continue with ken friedman and april bloomfield, co-owners of the restaurant "the spotted pig" here in new york city. >> it's super important to have a partner like april that doesn't forgettettes not about the next project, it's about the last project it's about making sure each plate that goes out to people who chose to come to the restaurant, it would be perfect. >> if ken had his way he'd open 20 restaurants a >> 100. we ground each other. that's nice.
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>> rose: we conclude with richard lewis, his new book, "reflections from hell: richard lewis' guide on how not to live." >> i didn't have the greatest upbringing. very few people did. i wasn't abused but felt tethered to nothing. i was sort of all alone. he sort of got that. he used to come to all my shows on tv and my concerts and nightclubs in new york and he would understand that beneath the darkness was another layer of darkness and he was able to illustrate this in this book. >> rose: david sanger a look at "the spotted pig" and comedian richard lewis when we continue. >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> rose: additional funding provided by:
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>> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin this week with the reported hack of millions of personnel records from computers across the federal government. it may be the largest breech ever of u.s. government networks. investigators suspect china is behind the attack, an accusation china denies. we turn to david sanger national security correspondent for the "new york times." david, let me begin with the basic question how serious is this, how much damage does it do? >> well, charlie, as with the first reports of all big cyberattacks, we don't know yet how much damage it did. there is good reason to believe since the office of personnel
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management, which is the office that handles security clearances and all other personnel matters for the federal government, told 4 million current and former government employees they would get free credit reporting subsidized by the united states government, that they think they lost a lot of what's called personally identifiable information, which at its most benign would be social security numbers and addresses and at its worst, might be informations and answers people gave as they were going through the security clearance process. of course, that has an echo of earlier attack on the office of personnel management last summer which seemed directed mostly at those elements of the department that focused on the security clearances. so the big question here, charlie, is what was the motive of the hackers?
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was this about espionage, about getting the data that would give them an insight into people who have security clearances, which would be everything from energy department people, state department people, officers for the intelligence agencies, or is this a criminal group that is trying to amass a huge amount of data and then sell it in some way? >> rose: who does the investigation of this? >> well, the investigation is being done by the f.b.i. and the department of homeland security, which is responsible for attacks on u.s. soil. but as soon as there's a chinese dimension to it -- and here we think it may be a chinese group operating from southern china just north of hong kong that may have also been responsible just based on the signatures of the attacks, the attacks on anthem
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and premera and other healthcare administrators, that this could well involve the n.s.a. and others because once you get into hacking that begins abroad, then you need the n.s.a.'s ability to track back into those networks. >> rose: do we assume that if it came from the chinese government or if it came from within china the chinese government would know? >> not necessarily. you know, a lot of chinese attacks seem to be state-sponsored, and certainly those that came out of the people's liberation army and that famous unit that we've discussed many times before, unit 61398 which is a pla unit that did a lot of theft of intellectual property, there is no doubt when it's an army unit it's state-sponsored. but in this case it could be criminal groups. it could be groups that the chinese government knows about but doesn't really go try to stop. it could be proxies of some
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other kind and that's what makes this kind of thing so difficult because, if you don't know for sure that it's a state-sponsored attack, the way the u.s. said it was in the north korea sony case, for example, then the chinese can say what they said just a few hours ago which is you've got hackers and criminals on your soil, we have hackers and criminals on our soil and gee one day somebody's going to have to take care of this. >> rose: some have suggested perhaps this might be a way if you understood how to go about these kinds of security checks within the office of personal management you better be able to place a mole. >> you might be able to place a mole out an agent figure out if somebody working in an embassy in china or elsewhere has a different employer than the state department, there are all kinds of possibilities, and you might have a blackmail possibility as well because once
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you know the social security number and address, you can figure out where their kids are what the spouse does, there are all kinds of possibilities out there. so that's part of the reason it's so worrisome. charlie, there was an inspector general's report that came out a little more than a year ago about the office of personnel management that was pretty searing in its description of their sloppy cyber practices and, in fact, suggested that they suspend some elements of their site until they could get it cleaned up and i think one of the big questions for the next few days is going to be what did they do after they got that report? what did they do after the previous chinese hack last summer? how quickly did they implement changes? and if it's like past cases charlie, i think you will discover they implemented some changes and hadn't gotten to others, and that's exactly what happened to the n.s.a. when they were rolling out security changes but they hadn't gotten to hawaii yet and it turned out edward snowden was operating out
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of hawaii. >> rose: was this have any relationship to what we believe was the russian hacking that head them to some of president obama's -- i guess it was e-mails? >> right now, doesn't look like it was connected, but it is fascinating that china and russia have both felt free to engage in what you can only describe as short of war activities. one of the fascinating things about cyberattacks is that they're not an on-off switch the way a nuclear weapon or a missile or any conventional weapon is. they're really on a thermostat, like turning up and down the heat in your home. the result of that is you can do relatively low to medium-level hacks, state sponsors, true proxies, whatever, and know it's unlikely a country will retaliate against you very strongly. >> rose: do we assume the u.s. government is doing the same
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thing or not? >> well we certainly assume that the u.s. government is doing a fair bit of national security spying against russia. >> rose: which includes hacks, probably. >> and that certainly includes hacking. we know from the snowden documents a few things. we know there are over 100,000 implants in computer networks around the world. those implants can be used for surveillance, they can be used to detect incoming malware -- in other words, sort of the early-warning radar for an attack on the united states -- but they can also be used for attacks themselves. a way to think about these implants, charlie think about a port that a doctor might put into a patient to go administer chemotherapy or something. it's there and you can use it for all sorts of purposes. so, you know, the united states has some of the most sophisticated cyber capabilities, if not the most sophisticated, of any nation on
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earth. now, the u.s. would then also say, but look, we don't go gather up personal data about non-government officials we don't steal intellectual property and then give it to our state-owned companies because we don't have state-owned companies, we use this for national security purposes. every country defines its national security differently and that's why it's been so difficult to make any progress here. remember, it was only a year ago exactly this month charlie that the justice department indicted five members to have the people's liberation army for some of those intellectual property thefts. and what did that do? it shut down a lot of the dialogue between the u.s. and china. i'm not saying it's a bad idea to invite them but i'm saying it's a very difficult thing to retaliate without stopping the diplomacy. >> rose: am i missing anything overall about the subjects of hacking and information flow? >> well, charlie, i think what's important for most people to understand is while they hear a lot about hacking, and they hear a lot about their own personal
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information and are worried about it whether target, home depot, jp morgan chase or this attack on the office of personnel management, you have to think about these attacks in different ways. some are criminal, some are aimed at gaining personal data for reasons we don't understand, and some are strategic. some are aimed at our core defense systems and are meant to be part of an escalation of conflict. and if you go back and you look at where most of the attacks -- not all of them -- but where most of the attacks that are state sponsored we're worried about they come from four countries -- china russia, iran north korea. two of those are old superpower rivals that either out of weakness, in russia's case, or strength in china's case, are
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looking for new ways to go deal with the united states. two of them are states that had ambitions and, in north korea's case, success in building up a nuclear infrastructure and have discovered that cyber is a much more usable weapon, and what that tells you is we've got a level of challenge here that will be with us long after any iran nuclear agreement, long after whatever happens next with the next north korean nuclear missile test that in some ways is much harder to handle because the barrier to entry in cyber weaponry is very low. it's cheap and hard to deter. >> rose: david sanger, "new york times," thank you so much. >> thank you charl. great to to be back with you. >> rose: we'll be right back. stay with us. >> rose: ken friedman was a music executive with no experience in the food world and then decided to open a
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restaurant. after he was introduced to april bloomfield, he knew he found his partner. they opened "the spotted pig" in greenwich village in 2004, it was an immediate hit and is immensely popular a decade later. it's called the place where normal people go to feel like celebrities and celebrities to feel like normal people. >> i spent my whole life in clubs, as a musician, putting on shows in clubs. you know, you're standing up in a club looking at the band, or looking at the deejay or looking at hot girls. restaurants are kind of like clubs for grownups. you still get to mingle with people and meet the people, but you eat instead of take drugs. it's my mid life crisis restaurant and it's made for people like me that don't ever decide where to go till five
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minutes before, don't dress up. i'm wearing a jacket now, that's a big deal, you know. it's for you, charlie. but when i finally decided that i wanted to quit the music business and devote my energy and the remaining bit of money i had to opening "the spotted pig," i need add great chef. >> i got a call from him hey do you want to come do this pub in new york? i was, like, i don't know new york at all, i don't have any idea who you are but listen i'm ready to try something big. so it's wonderful. >> she just really believes and respects ingredients and she believes that if you have only three or four on the plate make each one the best possible. the way i cook at home and in the hamptons is like i learn from her.
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just buy the best ingredients. that's the secret. >> slightly bitter. yes. ah the other thing is i think it's the casual setting you know. we have an amazing place. it's got great energy, and people can eat delish foods in a casual, relaxed environment. >> like most of us, april gets obsessed with certain things. right now, she's just sort of obsessed with chickens. >> i am slightly obsessed with chickens. (laughter) >> at first, it was pigs, for both of us. >> i like feeding off each other. not just ken but staff too. >> she eat the greatest partner i could have. i've done a couple of things without her and i realize i don't want to do anything without her. she's a better partner and i'm more proud of what we're doing if she makes the food. >> rose: i used to live a block away from "the spotted pig" and it became my home away
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from home. when i came in late, there was a table i could sit by myself. we became great friends. >> you were on charles street which you thought was named after you (laughter) >> rose: named after me -- (laughter) >> and one time you didn't get a table, i had to big beg you to come back. i had to bring you a bottle of wine and cow we are. so now you always get a table. we have a carpenter on salary to build one if there's not one there for you. >> rose: well burks that's what you said! you like the freedom that you belong there and when you go, you expect they'll find a place for you to sit. >> the real vips are the people who live in the neighborhood and come all the time. the celebrity that comes in once a while, if you beeped over backwards for them and the people who are there all the time see that, they'll never come back. we gave you the time of day because you lived a block of
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way. now you're out of town, so to hell with you. (laughter) >> rose: except when i celebrate anything me or my staff, we go to "the spotted pig." >> we love having you there. >> rose: let me talk about what you talked about. here's the guy who decides he wants to own a restaurant. >> yes. >> rose: he knows mario beer tally. they talked because mario knows about restaurants. the idea of april came from -- was it mario? >> no. i think i asked jamie and jamie said two people your friend peter, and peter didn't want to do it. >> peter asked me, and then reported back to jamie and then jamie gave my number to ken. >> rose: and you came here and mario and ken took you around and showed you different places and halfway during the tour you were sold? >> i was sold before just because we started e-mailing
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back and forth and a neither one of us know how to email. we both couldn't -- sorry i pushed send before i should have and deleted the last email. we were both bumbling idiots. >> did you receive it, no, i didn't -- >> so it was like kindred spirits. when we drive, we both have the worst sense of direction, so i was sold before we met. >> rose: how do you divide up the responsibility of the restaurant? >> i'm kitchen back of house but i have a lot to do with plateware and things. we dispense ideas off each other. >> rose: you're the person there out front knowing and making sure that everything is okay? >> yeah. i mean -- yeah, that and sometimes a lot less and sometimes a lot more is that and doing the planning ahead and all those kinds of things either for new restaurants or how to make
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spotted pig better. >> yeah. it's super important to have a partner like april that doesn't forget it's about the next project, it's about the last project. it's about making sure each plate that goes out to people who chose to come to our restaurant is perfect. i sometimes suffer from getting bored with the things we have now and wanting to do the next thing. it's super important to be, no, no we already committed to this one, let's focus on this one. >> rose: sort of grounded. that's the best thing abou your relationship. if ken had his way, he would open 20 restaurants a year. >> rose: why not 30? well, probably would be 100. but we ground each other and that's the nice thing. i think we both know our element and we kind of play with that. >> rose: you probably have a lot of ideas about how to cook and send them right to her don't you? >> never. never ever ever. (laughter) the thing is the -- >> apparently, he cooks the best chicken but i've never eaten it. >> rose: never.
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and his lobster cakes are amazing, i've heard but never eaten them. >> rose: didn't you email and say, what about this? and he basically said no. >> it was kosher hot dogs and -- i said no, i'm not right person. >> she said if you want to tofu dogs, i'm not the right person. i was trying to lose weight. you don't go to a real chef and say can you come up with a tofu dog. don't do that. >> rose: what's a gastropub? it's a pub chefs took over in the early '90s because they didn't have a lot of money and they took the pubs that were going out of business, and they put a big chef in there, somebody who was out front and they created an exciting warm environment to go hang out with your friends every night. ken was slightly obsessed with that and once he created a place to bring his friends. >> rose: has the menu changed
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a lot? >> not really. we still have the burger, but it changes seasonally. we buy everything from the market so that dictate what we put on the menu. >> that means the union square farmers market, not the stock market. >> rose: didn't you once want to call prodigal pig? >> yeah. >> rose: how did that go over? most of my friends didn't know what "prodigal" meant. you say, go into the dictionary and look it up a. basically, "the spotted pig" is such a visual name. when i told april, for one you liked it and mario, who was/is my friend helper advisor, he loved it, so we went with "the spotted pig" and it worked. >> rose: so you went from pigs in the beginning and chicken and now the book is about vegetables, hardy meals from the garden, a girl and her greens. >> i love vegetables.
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>> rose: is that a new affair? no, a very long affair. i grew up eating vegetables. my mom used to cook the most amazing vegetables and i fell in love with vegetables at a cafe. you have to go to the pig to know i do have this love affair, not just with pigs but with the vegetables. so i wanted to create this book to show the other side of me, really. >> rose: you were at the river cafe in london when they found you. >> exactly. >> rose: you and ruthie were a powerful combination then. >> with rose yeah. i had a great time. i was running shifts and writing menus and, you know, i was in my element, but i was ready for a different life experience and i wanted to eat different food and meet new people and, so, you know, ken offered me this opportunity and i think ken was in his mid life crisis and we kind of just held hands and jumped together and, you know, created this amazing thing. >> rose: your mid life crisis? yeah, i had a classic -- at age 40, i was in the music
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business and didn't come home and want to play music anymore i was kind of bored. i was the guy who threw the parties and cooked chicken liver and lobster tacos and people kept saying, you should open a restaurant, and you think, right. then i thought, i want to try to. i didn't want to look back on my life and say i wish i'd done the thing i really wanted to do. so i thought how bad could bit? i didn't have kids a wife, mortgage. i could live for a couple of years on the money i saved though i spent it when we went over budget on the pig. >> rose: you have a lot of friend in the music business. >> yes. >> rose: they are part of the clientele that comes there whether jay-z or bono or other people. >> yeah. >> rose: your friends and associations have deepened in the music business. >> yeah. i didn't know i'd find somebody as great as april but i kind of w57b9d the -- i wanted the chef to be involved in being about
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the food. i didn't want to be a hip music business place and then somebody goes on to the next place. >> rose: the way you ensure that doesn't happen is to have a damn good chef in the kitchen? >> yeah, because ultimately when you go out to dinner you say i feel like great chinese or indian or burger. you don't know, i want to go and see if i can see celebrities. you might do it once or twice. but if people come back again and again it's for great food and cocktails and wine list and stuff. >> rose: this is a partnership of which you had 10%. >> yes. >> rose: did he just walk in one day and say, i want to give you 50%? we're partners i depend on you you're indispensable to me? or did it happen because you said you need to give me 50% or i'm walking. >> no, i didn't say i was walking out. i approached ken to be equal partners at "the spotted pig"
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and projects going forward. you have to value your work and yourself. ken appreciates what we do and you know, said no problems. >> rose: that was a no-brainer, was it? >> it was a simple negotiation. she said, look, i think we're equal partners. i said yes we are. that was pretty much the extent. the lawyers did the paperwork and stuff burks yeah, it was pretty simple. >> rose: expansion. you started john dory at one location on 11th avenue. that didn't last how long, a year? >> eight months. >> rose: how can you two being as smart as you are screw it up? >> i think we just made bad judgment. every business person can make a bad judgment every once in a while and i think we should listen to our instincts. my instincts was the biggest learning curve with the first john dory. i didn't speak up. i was too much in the background. i didn't like the space. i didn't like the area. i have to take full
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responsibility of that and now i do speak up. that was my learning curve through failure of the first john dory. >> rose: and it's your job to realize when you made a mistake get out as fa as you can. >> yes we knew we loved the concept of the work. >> rose: what concept. the british seafood/fish restaurant. so we finally got a space on the corner of 29th and broadway and decided to leave it there. >> rose: then briesline came along or before. >> that was before. we made a deal with the hotel. al said i'm coming to new york and doing an ace hotel at the corner of 29th and broadway. we thought really? he said, just take a look. he says, look up. there are amazing buildings
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here. good point. yeah so we'd never done anything -- i mean we'd had one big success, one restaurant that just closed, we were still licking our wounds from that. he said, i want you to do 24-hour room service a lobby a huge gastropub and we did it and it's been amazing. >> rose: put john dory in next door. >> luckily it was seamless. we closed the john dory and a corner store where the lease was becoming available and it just worked out. we still believed in the idea of a british seafood place in. america, people think it's fish and chips. they don't know there's a great tradition of seafood. >> we made it a bit more casual. there is great people watching space, right on the corner. >> rose: then salvation taco.
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yeah, that was a detour but a project that ken kind of, you know, kind of made a deal with and, i don't know, i was ready for a change, i think, with some tacos. who doesn't like tacos? >> rose: and then the restaurant in san francisco. >> tasco is this mythical -- i went to college add berkeley. tasco is something i could never get into. had all kinds of stuff going on in the back room. >> rose: seems like ambience it can't make a restaurant that has bad food. but if you have good food it can enhance the restaurant. >> it can turn something good into something great. >> rose: i was talking to danny meyer and he was talking fine dining casual is a phrase he used. does that make sense to you? >> i think so, yeah. >> rose: what's happening?
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give us a sense of how you see where the restaurant world is. >> i mean, right now, i think people want a relaxing environment. i don't think they want all the frills but i think they want the attention to detail. they want the refined -- you know, the refined food on the plate, the refined glasses burks but not 12 glasses or ten sets of cutlery or somebody standing there stiff. i think they want that kind of pared down and refined and casual. >> rose: are you growing as chef? >> yes. >> rose: how? i grow watching my chefs interact and watch what they're coming up with and what they have -- you know, their finger on the pulse. by going out to eat traveling, you know just doing events with other chefs. you know, doing events with
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daniel and seeing different stuff and being open. >> rose: does it feel exciting to fire up the stove and do something that comes out of your own mind and heart and hands? >> oh, of course. >> rose: i mean the feel the important to you. >> yes, it's everything -- the smell, sight touch all those combined. i love cooking. the day i don't like cooking, that's the day i'll stop. >> whoa, whoa whoa, stop? i have been cooking since i was 16. i love it. there is never a dull moment. i never get bored. i'm not one of those people. >> rose: but it's all in the kitchen. >> i have as much passion and fire as when i was 16. >> rose: you look about 16. i love the fact that i still have that and i hope that kind of comes through with the people that i work with.
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>> rose: so what's your ambition? >> to keep excited you know, keep on doing projects that are exciting and interesting and new. not just sort of re-create stuff and, you know, to do new things. >> rose: what is it he has? i mean he's obviously very good at this. >> yeah. >> rose: what is it that he has? >> i don't know. i just think he's got this certain something that, i don't know, i'm still trying to figure it out. >> rose: the x factor. exactly, right. >> rose: i mean, to know ken is to love him, you know. >> yes. >> rose: and to know that he'll be there for you. i'm serious! you have that quality. it's not just me. you know that if you were in trouble, he would be there for you. >> yes. >> rose: you know that if you have a special requirement, he'll be there to help you and therefore, he has a personality so that, when you come in there you want to see him and you want to -- >> yeah, he's very charismatic.
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>> rose: that's what i was looking for, charismatic. ken friedman, charismatic. >> i'm right here. you're talking like i'm not here. i'm sitting right here. >> rose: well, we want to do that for you. congratulations. >> thank you. >> rose: you did something important, you chose a great partner. >> i'm good at choosing partners and friends. i have goods friends, too. >> rose: ken friedman, april bloomfield, the restaurant in new york that's so famous, "the spotted pig." john dory, breslin, now tasca in san francisco. this is a big projects at 70 pine street, a wonderful old art deco building. >> this company, rose & associates, i don't know if you're involved with them or not. >> rose: are they in real estate. >> not yet. they're renovating the building seventh tallest. >> rose: you will be on the top four floors?
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>> yes. >> rose: that's a big deal. with you up for this? >> of course, we're nervous excited. >> we're in way over our head. >> rose: but that's the reason it's exciting, when you're in over your head. >> yes, we're literally 60 stories up. >> rose: good luck. the book a girl and her dreams, party girl with her garden, april bloomfield. back in a moment. stay with us. richard lewis is here, the chicago tribune once called him the most audacious comic aside from lenny bruce. he spent decades joking. he released a box set of some of his work last year called bund of nerves. now created a book called
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"reflections from hell: richard lewis' guide on how not to live." >> karl nicholas is a legendary guy in new york. >> rose: tell us about you and him and how you came to admire. >> one of my oldest friends i knew since i was three or four introduced me to karl in the '80s. i saw his work, blown away became a payton, soon after that larry david got him a studio i wound up buying 30 or 40 of his paintings, he's a professor of school of visual arts, a legendary guy of 40 years. but i've always tried to find a way where we could collaborate. he so understood, he paints the way my mind, good or bad works. so i said i have an idea. i'll call you up with five thoughts. if anything tickles your fancy -- which is a phrase i never used on television dinah shore once used it -- >> rose: but not you. tick also your fancy she would
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have said? >> coltrane would have used it. so i called him up and we got the book together by a wonderful editor and christopher murray and now it's out in powerhouse books, it just came out. it's like a gift book, 50 images. larry david wrote the forward where he demolished me. >> rose: said, this book is a marriage of artist and comedian. i'm usually skeptical about marriage of any kind but this one works. and it did work. >> thank you. i think it did work. he has two beautiful daughters, amicable with his ex-wife and a happy man right now. >> rose: why did it work for you and him? >> because you know we had this connection, karl and i for 35 years. >> rose: we talked about it. yeah. and he -- look, i didn't have the greatest upbringing, very
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few people did. i wasn't molested or abused, but emotionally i felt tethered to nothing. i was all alone. he got that. he used to come to all my shows and on tv and in my concerts in nightclubs in new york. he knew there was another layer of darkness. >> rose: take me through these. upcoming attraction. here's the image we see on screen. >> the one my wife is frightened to look at. >> rose: yes. you say my nightmares have coming attractions. >> i call them my nightmare have coming attractions goodbye, then he would do it. it's a slight joke but not much more of a joke. >> rose: the worst audience i ever had were my parents. >> he never let me down in any of these images. we did about 150 of them, but we
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had to edit the book, of course. look, my mother and i -- my mother was ill she had a lot of problems. you know, my dad died before i became a comedian, but they were never around. my brother was a beetnic my sister had kids, and i was alone with my mother. it was like a neil simon eugene o'neil house together. it was hill hairous and horrifying. i never expected this. just a quick thing. i remember a lyricist who wrote the whiter shade of pale, a british group i said when you gave your poems of 30 years to gary brooker the musician he says he never let me down whether a hard-driving rock song
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or a very melodic song, and karl never let me down on one image. every time i saw it, i thought, how could he? it's trippy. >> rose: desperation is my sweet spot. so you call him up. how soon do you see the image? a week, a month? >> average about a week. >> rose: yeah. are you ever disappointed? >> i was never disappointed. when i saw the mouse trap in my head there -- >> rose: oh, that's me. that's me. that's what i have been doing for 45 years. >> rose: the next one what a shame that love is a two-way street. >> well, i got married to joyce ten years ago. we'd known each other 17 years ago. prior to that i was a recovering alcoholic for 20 years. i was a mess. i'm still nuts, but. >> rose: no longer an addict. alcohol and drugs and cokes is not managing me anymore for 20 years, which is good, a great
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thing. my wife never saw me loaded. but before that, i mean, i was clueless what was a good relationship. but i think it was -- oh, god the media, when he says communication is a two-way street. >> rose: marshall mcclueen. thank you, of course you would know that. to me, i was thinking about it, it was a shame any narcissism got in the way of a relationship because particularly as a drug addict and alcohol i had to be right all the time. it had to go my way all the time. >> rose: i used to think tropical depressions were my relative in florida. >> i did. it's a joke, obviously. but, there i am on an island basically waiting to be put down by the majority of my family. they just didn't get me. >> rose: uncles and aunts and the rest of them. >> some did burks such a small
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percentage. and -- that i really -- it was like a chagall to me hanging on, but it was tethered to nothing and i felt like it was easy to understand why, even though i was doing well in the early '70s -- back then there was only about 20 of us, cristal and leno and kaufman and french, i mean, it was a different deal. >> rose: all playing at the same place? >> no, the village i must have gone to man hant. i lived in new york, went to jersey for a while broke up with my college girlfriend, and that's when everything hit the fan because i was a wreck. i didn't think i was going to make it. how down? and back then in the '70s all the iconic comedians -- lenny was bad, but pryor all these guys were on stage robert, collin, they were the big guns in down and you say, how can i do this? how can i make a living at this?
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and i struggled a long time. but i said i'm never giving up because i don't think i can do anything else. i'm not going to milk a cow, you know. i had to do this, and i never gave up. >> rose: lucky you didn't have to depend on milking a cow. >> but guys like steve allen, i couldn't touch one of those things oh, god. but people like steve allen, he would see my set and say you got it. david brenner would say, you've got to work on this 24-7 and you can become a star. >> rose: but who did you really admire, pryor lenny bruce? >> i listened to lenny bruce's album at the high school where i graduated, when i heard the berkeley album, he was already dead. he died in '66. he died the night i bottomed out, and he died and i went to the hospital and saved myself. >> rose: you went to the hospital and saved yourself? you took yourself to the hospital? >> i was hold up in my house
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doing crystal metaphor about ten days. >> rose: that long? yeah, i looked like a jewish -- what's his name -- who hid out in the hotels in vegas? come on. >> rose: howard hughes. yeah, i looked like howard hughes' very thin rabbi at that point. people came over, you're going to die no, i'm not. >> rose: people would come over and -- >> knock down my door you're going to die. i would say, no, i'm not. >> rose: why didn't they get your butt out of there? >> true friends did. they took me to the doctor. he said, what's happening? i said i'm dying. i said, no more. that was it. >> rose: did you do that that easily? >> no, i tried for years. >> rose: you would have to tie yourself up to do that. >> there are different types of programs and i had friends who were horrible junkies who i said if they can clean themselves up, that's the good part about
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having a lot of friends who are sober. you go if this guy was a junky and came back from the dead 18 times -- because i loved booze mainly. the cocaine came last. i remember i was dating one really sweet woman but she was young and experimented and she said, you know, you're so mean on booze. you're nicer on ecstasy. i said, that's not the way to go. >> rose: you're clean now. oh, yeah. 20 years. >> rose: my wife loves me for what i could have been. how did he draw that? >> oh, that's just me putting myself down in front of my wife who loves me no matter how eccentric i am. she's been really supportive of everything. she used to be in the music business she now has her own business. he works for charities. it's just really odd being with someone for 17 years who's never seen you being carried out of restaurants on gurneys. i don't want to go overboard on this recovery thing it's just my journey.
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but i'm lucky. i wouldn't be with you wouldn't have a new book, wouldn't have a new show coming out, wouldn't be touring i would be dead. >> rose: but do you say these things when you tour? >> it's all over my act. i don't mind saying it. i get a kick out of saying it. i have to be entertaining. i'm not preaching. when i see a guy lying down like this, and i see his wife going, if richard lewis can clean up, you can! that makes me feel good. >> rose: tell me about drunks the 1995 film. >> i was sober for about six months and this was an a-list traumatic movie. the actors are -- fay dan away, howard rawlins -- the list is never end. so i went away to a famous dramatic actor. i auditioned for the role, got
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it. the director broke down and cried. >> rose: because your performance is so good? >> yes. i was doing a letterman show. i was staying at a hotel he auditioned me on film. he broke down and cried. i was up all night. i was raw and scared. >> rose: this is the clip from 1995 film "drunks." >> hi, i'm a drunk. i've got three days now. (applause) >> hi, i'm freddie. i'm an alcoholic. by the grace of god, one day at a time. i'll have six months tomorrow. (applause) >> hi, my name is louisy, i'm addicted and it's seven days. (applause) >> my name is tom i'm an alcoholic and pothead and i have ten days back. (applause)
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>> jim? i'm an alcoholic. i drank last night. i'm back where i started -- again. in 24, i will have one day. >> i was staying at this one hotel a lot for about ten years. the woman who helped me there i said, look i need to base here but -- he was a junky. i was never a junky. so i said, give me the worst rat -- give me the worst room that you would give to a neo-nazi. give me a horrible room. she gave me the worst.
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i said take all the furniture out but the bed and some drawers. i brought a picture of lenny bruce and jimi hendrix and put it over my bed. peter cohen who direct it, whose father was the legendary literary agent sam cohen came in and wanted me to audition some actors who had smaller roles. he walks in and like an addict who either feels like he's the greatest or feels like he's the worst human being on the planet like i felt then in that film, i said you know what? get someone else. you don't need me. i'm an alcoholic. and he looked around in this room and it looked like gitmo with a picture of lenny and hendrix who i worship both those guys -- and you asked me, and if we get to it, i can tell you people who started what i think comedy is really about -- but he laughed and said, you're an alcoholic.
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what a shock that is. he's so new. and i was proud because i was only sober a little bit and i was so raw. i was freaked every time i went to the set. >> rose: was there a time that you thought you had a great opportunity to be a great actor? >> well, what happened to me was that i remember that year it came out in the theaters, but it was talking heads and, you know, movies need more action. if that was on air force one maybe, with a terrorist on the plane, it probably would have made $200 million, but it was in a church and the monologs actors who should get this film and see these monologues, they're just astounding. i held my own but these actors are just unbelievable. i'll miss so many if i -- but
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yes, i did. i was in the first scene of "leaving las vegas." the director said i'm here with nick, we want you to play this scene. i said if nick gets this he'll nail an oscar and he did. i'm sitting outside and i have a degree in business and fired 300 agents and managers. i like you now where i am, okay? happy? (laughter) but i'm sitting there and he's practicing his different levels of alcoholism. we're waiting for the cameras for a different shot. i said, god, would i love to play an alcoholic. two months later i auditioned for "drunks" and played it. so i fault lucky. >> rose: did it change anything? >> no, because the same year i did a special the magical mystery tour which got great reviews which i put in this
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package, with things that were never shown before. >> rose: bundle of nervous. bundle of nervous. a really cool package. i'm sorry for saying this. but it has stuff that people like me would have never seen. but the thing is, for some reason, agents who i fired and managers, i said, look, i'm making a lot of money as a standup but i love acting. i'm not going to be daniel day lewis and abraham lincoln. i'm not going to go, i don't know. i mean i would have prepared but i would have stunk. but i could play that. i could play a gangster. in fact -- >> rose: you could have played lenny bruce. >> boy, that would have been something. >> rose: so david let mineral leads the scene. david leads the scene. he set a precedent for me that maybe saved my standup career. >> rose: what did he do? i used to do "tonight." johnny liked me. we had funny stories together
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carson and i. once i was on a plane going to paris, we had to go to london with my ex-girlfriend. he always went to wimbledon. i had a lot of nervous ticks. he's there. i i'm on the aisle in first class going like this. my girlfriend says -- it's a five and a half hour flight -- she said, if you continue to stare at carson you're dead. i said, you know, i have ticks and tremors whatnot. >> rose: he's sitting ahead of you? >> no, he's right here next to one of his wives and i keep staring at him for five hours. so we get to the first class lounge waiting for our flights. i went over to him and i said, johnny i'm humiliated. i mean, i have a lot of ticks and, you know, i wish it wasn't you sitting there. i wish it was martha stewart or somebody, you know. but he said it was cool. but the two things about carson
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and letterman that are very crucial to me, i once -- you know i like doing new material. so id had this monologue that lasted -- you do five and a half minutes when you do a standup. letterman -- >> rose: is that the normal length? five and a half? >> yeah, that's it. then you sit down and then you're out of there. >> rose: yeah. so i was doing this division of motor vehicles routine i'd done for a decade -- couldn't get to get it on carson -- david letterman said you do one tonight show, one talk show, any of them, it's like doing a nightclub in manhattan every night for three years. you better take it seriously. so i did. i was doing my monologue and killing it in burbank, which is normally a pretty square audience. i see the stage manager go under the camera and go, wrap it up. i thought, if i wrap it up, i'll
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never get the show again because i didn't finish half the monologue, and if i stay on, it will be the longest monologue in history, which it was, 11 minutes, okay? i said i'll never get the show again. but if people say how come you're not on with johnny i'd rather say i was too funny. so as i walked back, the segment producer went, you will never get this show again! and i knew, you know, it wasn't my fault, but i knew i did the right thing. carson saw me be great. so i go to the palm where i always used to go after "tonight" shows and there's carson with his exsmx lawyer at the time. what a billion-to-one shot. we still had our makeup on for the show. i dart over like jack ruby and got on my knees like al joelson and pled my case. i said i didn't want you to think i didn't know what a
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monologue is. i said i would rather not do your show and be professional than cut it in half. the next day i got a call from the nasty-tempered producer who said, all right, you're a lucky man, you're back in business with johnny. letterman said, i've seen your "tonight' shows some are great some are not. in '81 he called me and said, you can come to new york, you can write for me, still do standup. i said, i don't want to move to new york. i just moved here. he said, but listen, you come on my show as often as you want but never do standup on television ever. you're too physical. and i'm indebted to him for that. >> rose: the book, the forward here by larry david he basically says as attend. most please laugh and know that you are way ahead of the game not being me, i warned you. thank you, richard.
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>> thank you. >> rose: good to see you. good to see you. >> rose: for more about this program and earlier episodes, visit us online at and captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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"the jewel in the crown" was made possible in part by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.


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